The Portland Police Bureau released data this week touting the work of the city Gun Violence Reduction Team in the wake of a call to cut its funding.
The new data comes after Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, citing what she's described as the team's history of racist policing, suggested cutting funding for the team and reassigning its officers to the understaffed patrol division.
In October, bureau leaders rebranded the team; it had been called the Gang Enforcement Team. PPB says they made the change because gang shootings had been going down while overall shootings were increasing. But the change also came after a blistering audit questioned the gang team's tactics and suggested members over-policed black communities.
Along with changing the team's name, police leaders broadened its scope from gang violence to include all shootings in the city.
Sgt. Kenneth Duilio, who had been with the Gang Enforcement Team and is now with the Gun Violence Reduction Team, said that last year the team investigated 120 gang shootings.
“This year the projection of the number of shootings that we’re going to take is between 350 and 400,” he said.
The data PPB released says that of 135 shootings this year, the gun team responded to 99 and referred 76 to detectives for felony shooting investigations. They also say 13 lives were taken by firearms so far this year — a number that includes homicides and deaths by suicide — and that they’ve seen a downward trend in shootings since the Gun Violence Reduction Team was formed.
But PPB was unable to provide similar data for previous months and years for comparison. And since October, Duilio said, “we’ve averaged just about one shooting a day.”
So far in 2019 there have been 11 homicides in Portland, though not all have been by firearm. That’s double the number of homicides at this point than in the previous two years.